In Their Own Words

Nicole Sealey on “Unframed”

On "Unframed" 

This poem was first published in Third Coast back in 2011. It is my one and only take-away from a 30/30 challenge, in which I attempted to write 30 poems in 30 days in the fall of 2010. Coincidentally, it was my first and last 30/30.

Like many poets, visual art is one of my go-tos for inspiration. A week into the challenge, feeling creatively depleted, I began reading and rereading art books, thinking about the process of art making, and obsessing about the act of art handling. For years I'd been curious about art handling and likened it to the way(s) a lover might handle her beloved—delicately, with so much care.

The responsibility of an art handler is to ensure that the artifact or art object is treated in such a way as to preserve its integrity, its beauty over time. What then is the responsibility of a love to her beloved, when we ourselves are not physically built to last? Evidenced by our knees, we are meant to buckle. We are made for eventual collapse. Understanding this truth, the speaker in "Unframed" insists that she be handled with some urgency. I'd like to think that her beloved gives in to her insistence.

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